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mm6ch

Compendium of Views on the Defense Acquisition Workforce- Senate Report

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I may have missed this on the wifcon.com homepage or in the forums. Wanted to share. The link below is to a 214 page report released by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s permanent subcommittee on investigations regarding the acquisition workforce. It's a compendium of views cobbled together and released as a report. This is larger than contracting but former contracting leaders opine. I scanned the report but haven't read the beast.

http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/subcommittees/investigations/media/senators-mccain-and-levin-release-permanent-subcommittee-on-investigations-psi-report-on-defense-acquisition-reform

And here is a govexec article discussing the report: http://m.govexec.com/defense/2014/10/trouble-defense-acquisition-may-be-workforce/95945/?oref=ge-iphone-interstitial-continue

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Look, the workforce is a mess. But anyone who knows anything about the major system acquisition process knows that the problems are deeply embedded in our politics, the design of our government, our budgetary processes, interservice rivalry, our requirements processes, and Congressional impotence, frustration, and stupidity. The notion that appointing better program managers and contracting officers is the key to fixing the process is laughable. In any case, fixing the workforce is beyond the Government's capability.

Here's the truth: the major system acquisition process came into being during the Cold War. When we wanted new weapons we threw money at the problem until we came up with something that worked: Atlas missile, Polaris missile, nuclear submarines, bombers and fighters, and moon rockets. We did that because we had to be ready to go toe to toe with the Ruskies and wanted the world to look up to us. Now that that's all over, we want to "manage" the bleeping process like rational people, but the political/bureaucratic regime we created is too entrenched and out of control.

Read this in Daniel Gordon's essay:

A web of unhealthy incentives often lead to unrealistically low prices and overly optimistic schedules at the time contracts are awarded. GAO’s Paul Francis has described these problems as a “sophisticated process whose consistent results are indicative of its being in equilibrium.” There is effectively a silent conspiracy, with the various participants acquiescing in what they know, or should suspect, are unrealistic baselines – and, if you’ll forgive my bluntness, members of Congress play key roles in that conspiracy. Later, of course, those very knowledgeable stakeholders will declare that they are “shocked, shocked” that the weapon system has overrun the initial price and schedule.

That's only part of the truth, but it's some truth. The system works as it has been designed to work.

I am near the end of my time in this business. I am convinced that the best thing the competent people can do is write texts that provide good explanatory material and practical advice to the working level. Forget all the bull about acquisition reform. Ignore it. I've been listening to it for 40 years. It has never come to anything and it never will. Work to help people who will work to help themselves. Ignore the rest.

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